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Friday, August 29th, 2014

Cardinals beat Wildcats in five games

By Robb Hemmelgarn
NEW BREMEN - It wasn't a thing of beauty, but New Bremen coach Theresa Jenkins understands that when it comes to Midwest Athletic Conference victories she needs to take it anyway she can get it. After stumbling to losses in their first two games of their conference-opening battle with their rival Minster Wildcats, the Cardinals stormed back from the brink of elimination to take the final three games and improve to 2-2 on the season and 1-0 in league play with the 20-25, 21-25, 25-21, 25-18, 15-11 triumph.
"Minster is a great team and we knew coming in that they would have some heavy hitters and we felt it would be very important to pick up their hits and get the momentum early on," Jenkins said. "We managed to come away with the win, but I felt we played a little tight tonight, but it is still great to start league play with a victory."
The two teams teetered back and forth at the onset of the opening game, but with things tangled at 15 points apiece, Minster senior Danielle Monnin served up five straight to give her team a 20-15 advantage. The Cardinals pulled to within a point on a successful tip by senior Stephanie Brandt, but the Wildcats shut things down with the final four points to take the opener, 25-20.
The Wildcats held a tight margin of just one or two points in game two until junior Hannah Schmitmeyer provided a little breathing room from behind the server's line as the Wildcats pushed in front, 10-6. The Orange and Black maintained their 3-4 point cushion the rest of the way before taking a 25-21 victory.
"We have been telling the girls all season how important it is to keep their energy up," Jenkins said. "We needed to go into the third game and communicate better with one another and be the aggressor. I feel we did a good job of changing that aspect of our game and it seemed to carry us the rest of the way."
The Wildcats and Cardinals went back to trading punches in the early going of game three before Minster seemed poised to slam the door shut by going up 15-12 following a New Bremen hitting error. Everything that seemingly went right for the Wildcats up to that point suddenly shifted in the other direction, as the Cardinals scored the contest's next seven points thanks to strong serving by freshman Paige Jones and outstanding net play by Brandt and junior Kaitlyn Ahrns.
The Wildcats never fully recovered, and New Bremen went on to claim the 25-21 victory. "It felt like the pace of the game was entirely different in that third game," Minster head coach Cami Garman said. "We seemed to really slow things down and lost a lot of the momentum and excitement we had and we weren't able to get it back after that."
The fourth game belonged to the Cardinals from beginning to end as they kept the momentum and put the Wildcats away, 25-18, forcing the decisive game five. Minster scratched and clawed as best as they could in the opening moments of the final game, but junior Devon Heitkamp served up five straight to give her team a 10-6 command. Minster eventually pulled to within a point at 12-11 after Lauren Roetgerman's tip dropped untouched on the other side of the net, but the Cardinals dusted themselves off and notched the final four points of the match to take the league-opening victory by a score of 15-11 in the final game.
"New Bremen really changed their approach in how they attacked our defense in the final three games," Garman said. "We made some silly errors at the net with blocking and they took advantage of it. Their attackers really hit hard and showed a lot of our weaknesses tonight."
Minster (3-2, 0-1 MAC) was led in the contest by Erica Oldiges and Bridget McGowan with 12 and 11 kills respectively, while Oldiges also recorded six blocks in the defeat. For the Cardinals, it was Devon Heitkamp leading the way with 15 kills, while Stephanie Brandt added 14 in the New Bremen victory. Minster is back in action Saturday at the Lehman Invitational, while the Cardinals travel to Jackson Center on Saturday.
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